Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Teaching the Romance (Prologue; first in a series)

In the fall of 2005 I came back from a quarter's research leave to teach my first DePaul University class on popular romance fiction.  Since then, I have taught nearly thirty of these ten-week courses on the genre, ranging from large undergraduate surveys to senior and graduate (MA) seminars.  I'm coming up on a break in that teaching:  I go on another research leave in the fall, and won't teach another romance class until a year from now, at least.  So before what I've learned from all that teaching slips out of my mind, I'd like to post a series of pieces on it here at Teach Me Tonight.

The text of these posts will be derived, at least at first, from a couple of conference papers I've given on teaching popular romance, with some additional commentary, book lists, and so on, added to freshen them up.  I must admit, I'm at the point in the quarter right now when it seems--just like clockwork, year after year--that I know very little about either teaching or popular romance, but I'll try to keep the self-doubt to a minimum!  (If you want to read about that, you can find more at my personal / poetry-teaching blog, Say Something Wonderful.)  My goal in breaking things up, rather than writing one long post, is to give myself room to meander and muse, and if you'd like to ask me questions about the courses, the books, the assignments, I'd be very glad to answer them.

By way of a prologue, let me just say that my courses here have been various sizes.  A 20-student "seminar" was the smallest, I think (not counting independent studies), and the largest ones are  are 35-40 student lecture / discussion classes.  At whatever size they're offered, however, they fill up quickly:  mostly with women, as a rule, but I have had up to 20% of the class be male.

To teach such courses, I have learned, is something of a privilege.  Not many people get to teach popular romance fiction, and many who do, approach it in the context of broader courses on literary fiction, popular culture, or women’s studies. But there are distinctive challenges and rewards to teaching a course entirely on the genre, and I hope these posts will both inspire and equip some of you reading them to pitch such courses to your respective deans and department chairs.  If you do, and they bite, let me know.

(Image is my alter-ego, Prof. H. M. Wogglebug, T.E.)

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! I am so looking forward to your series. Thank you.